The only thing falling apart faster than our planet is the personal life of Michael Beard, the fictional lead of Ian McEwan's Solar. He's a brilliant scientist, to be sure, the winner of the Nobel Prize in physics for the Beard-Einstein Conflation, much in demand not only as a research scientist but also as a public intellectual of sorts, the kind of guy likely to show up as a talking head in a documentary on climate change, speaking persuasively about his plans to use the immense power of the sun to create artificial photosynthesis, to craft the means to save us all.
But Beard himself is a mess, grotesque and downright unlikeable to boot, yet oddly irresistible to women. "He belonged to that class of menvaguely unprepossessing, often bald, short, fat, cleverwho were unaccountably attractive to certain beautiful women. Or he believed he was, and thinking ...
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